Occasionally two things from the news catch your ear and resonate together. Today it was the news that Obama has cancelled Nasa’s new moon programme. And [ht Barry Taylor] that Gil Scott-Heron is back with a new album.
The connection? I’ve always loved Scott-Heron’s early, hard-hitting social commentaries. And the lyrics of ‘Whitey on the Moon’ just seem so appropriate in these tough economic times – especially post Haiti’s earthquake – that I wondered if Obama had been listening when he made his decision:
I can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While whitey’s on the moon
You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But whitey’s on the moon…
The racial context of 1974 America, into which the album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was clearly different to that of 2010. But ‘whitey’ still exists in other guises: the greedy bankers, the tight landlords, the traffickers and corrupt politicians – all of those who would divert money away from just causes to fulfil their own agendas.
Actually, I think the original Apollo missions turned out to be good value, but I can’t see that these would be. So it’s a good decision by Obama. Let’s just hope the money that is saved goes into welfare programmes, not weapons.